Operations “Thiverny”, our 26th operation, was our second daylight raid on 19 July 1944 at East Kirkby, Lincolnshire. Although it was much clearer to see our target, it was nonetheless scary, because the enemy fighters also had a better view of us approaching. A fighter did in fact spot us and caught our fuselage with several shots of tracer bullets. Our skipper did the famous corkscrew and our two rear gunners, mid upper and tail, fired back fairly quickly. Luckily for us they appeared to frighten the fighter off and it didn’t follow up with the fight. We were very lucky to escape any casualties, as on landing we discovered 17 bullet holes in our Lancaster.
On our 33rd operation to Joigny on 31 July 1944, on a daylight operation, another fear was that if we were on a lower run in over the target we could be underneath other aircraft dropping their bomb load. We did actually see a couple of Lancasters going down when bombs had hit their wings. Losing aircraft, with seven aircrew aboard, was a harrowing sight to see, especially when it was not enemy action and through no fault of the crew.
Note: Also published on the BBC WWII People's War website as 'Lucky Escape' 29 January 2006.